I Moved To Oaxaca

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Going to make this short, as I'm off to Multimax in a few to see Rio Mistico.

Since returning from SF, I've caught myself thinking that living in Oaxaca is becoming routine. Fortunately, the city throws a bone my way so I can see how ridiculous a thought that is. When Friday rolled around I went out to do a few errands before hitting the tianguis near my house (Conzatti and the organic market at El Pochote). I didn't have the leisurely stroll about town I'd usually enjoy on a Friday because penny-pinching Berlitz has been loading up the end of the week with make-up classes -- if you can call classes rescheduled because of Christmas break make-up classes. Christ, can't they factor in the holidays to their fee schedule so as not to cram our schedules with classes at which only half the students show anyway? And I had a busy Friday afternoon ahead of me. So after dropping off some laundry and buying stamps and looking fruitlessly for a pet store that sells cat paraphenalia, I went to the organic market for cheese and whatever else looked good. And as I walked up I imagined that I'd get a haircut there. I don't know why, 'cause it's not like a haircutter regularly (or ever) shows up at El Pochote, but as I ducked under the arches, there he was: a tall, skinny guy with a beard and a Parvati-print t-shirt cutting a woman's hair. I walked over and asked in English if he was selling haircuts. He replied in Spanish what I took for a yes and if you'd like you're next, so I bought my queso fresco and some way-tasty amaranth-and-honey bars, and some (thank you god!) happy yogurt with pineapple and guayaba, walked back over and sat down to wait.

His hair-cutting setup consisted of a pair of scissors, a comb, and one of those plastic drapes that snap around the neck. Both he and the lady whose hair he was cutting were standing. He gave her hair one last fluff, whipped off the plastic drape, and motioned to me to come on over. He rattled off a long set of instructions in very quick Spanish, not a word of which I caught, but he pointed to a doorway, said baƱo and a bunch of other stuff, so I grabbed my hair and asked agua?, and he said yes. I walked over to the doorway and took a look inside: two dingy-looking storerooms and one dingy-looking bathroom with a toilet and a sink. So I wetted my hair down in the sink, rang it out with my hands, and walked back. On went the drape, then he rattled off another long, unintelligible string of Spanish which I took to be, what do you want me to do? I said (in English, since I didn't have the Spanish anyway), trim the ends and layer the top, please. A bit of pantomiming and he got it: "Volume?" "Si!"

Ten minutes later, much to the amusement of the small crowd watching, my hair was cut and just about dry. The plastic drape came off, and I handed over my 25 pesos (and a fatty tip -- he really looked like he needs to eat more). And I have a cool new 'do! I haven't gotten my hair cut since May, up in Connecticut, so it felt good, too. Enough so that I didn't even mind that the roast chickens at Conzatti weren't ready for lunch when I went by. But mmm that yogurt was just fine instead.


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